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  • Gory Details

    Could the menstrual cycle have shaped the evolution of music?

    A piece of advice I once received: Don’t ever talk about your period at work. No one wants to know.I have broken that rule. Menstrual cycles are fascinating, and at the risk of a major breach of workplace etiquette, here’s why we should all be talking about them more: If you’re a woman, your cycle shapes your physiology more than you probably realize, with hormones orchestrating a monthly...
    04/23/2014 - 17:35 Human Evolution, Psychology
  • Science Ticker

    Neandertal, modern human DNA deviates even more

    An analysis of genetic material from Neandertal remains from Spain, Croatia and Siberia suggests that the populations of this extinct hominid species were small and isolated compared with those of modern humans. Neandertals also experienced more changes to their skeletons but fewer changes in behavior and skin pigmentation than modern humans,...
    04/22/2014 - 08:00 Genetics, Ancestry
  • Science Ticker

    Lead levels in ancient Rome’s water were high, but not toxic

    Ancient Romans probably drank tap water with up to 100 times as much lead as that found in the local spring water of the time, thanks to the metal pipes used for the earliest plumbing in the city. The higher levels of lead in the drinking water, however, were probably not excessive enough to be harmful, researchers report April...
    04/21/2014 - 17:53 Pollution, Anthropology
  • Context

    Shor’s code-breaking algorithm inspired reflections on quantum information

    Second of two parts (read part 1)When the Robert Redford film Sneakers hit theaters in 1992, most moviegoers had never heard of the Internet. They’d have guessed “World Wide Web...
    04/18/2014 - 18:13 Quantum Physics, History of Science
  • Reviews & Previews

    To do: Exhibits to explore this May in D.C. and New York

    The Future Is Here Festival May 16–18Cosmologist Brian Greene and actor Patrick Stewart are among the headliners at this event, themed “science meets science fiction.”Ronald Reagan Building, Washington, D.C.World Science FestivalMay 28–June 1...
    04/17/2014 - 18:23 Technology, Science & Society, Animals
  • News

    Gene activity sets humans apart from extinct hominids

    Extinct human cousins may have used some genes differently than modern people do, an analysis of Neandertal and Denisovan DNA reveals.Compared with living people, Neandertals and ancient Siberians known as Denisovans had slightly different patterns of DNA methylation — a chemical modification of DNA that doesn’t change the information in genes but helps control gene activity. Evolutionary...
    04/17/2014 - 14:00 Genetics, Molecular Evolution, Human Evolution
  • Scicurious

    That beard is only hot because it’s not cool

    Every hipster knows that something is only cool before it becomes popular. There’s no point in liking a band once it hits the big time. That shirt is no good once it’s no longer ironic. And it’s certainly not enough to go clean shaven or grow a short beard — that’s much too mainstream. Recent years have seen a resurgence of moustaches, mutton chops and Fu Manchus. A style that really stands out...
    04/15/2014 - 19:01 Psychology
  • News in Brief

    Laetoli footprints show signs of unusual gait

    CALGARY, Alberta — Hominids that left footprints in volcanic ash at Laetoli, Tanzania 3.6 million years ago walked differently than people today do, Kevin Hatala, an anthropologist George Washington University in Washington, D.C., reported on April 11 at the American Association of Physical Anthropologists annual meeting. His conclusion challenges a recent study suggesting that Laetoli folk took...
    04/15/2014 - 11:27 Anthropology
  • News in Brief

    Earliest case of a battered child found in Greece

    CALGARY, Alberta — A pit where Athenians living 2,200 years ago typically deposited fetuses and babies who had died of natural causes contained a grim surprise for Maria Liston, an anthropologist at the University of Waterloo, Canada. In the pit, she found the skeleton of a roughly 1-year-old child who was probably beaten to death before being thrown into what’s known as the “...
    04/15/2014 - 10:11 Anthropology
  • News in Brief

    Ancient boy died surprisingly young

    CALGARY, Alberta—  A nearly 2-million-year-old Australopithecus sediba skeleton from South Africa belonged to a boy who was just 7.5 years old when he plunged to his death in an underground cave, Harvard University’s Adeline Le Cabec reported on April 11 at the American Association of Physical Anthropologists annual meeting. Researchers previously assumed that the boy...
    04/14/2014 - 16:34 Anthropology